Why you should not be afraid to fail

Having the courage to put your head above the parapet can be hard – but ultimately rewarding.

Have you ever had a bright idea? Ever wondered how to get it out of your head and into practice? 

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Despite their good intentions, many organisations try but fail to get innovation off the ground. Why?

Meetings, groups and initiatives that focus on process rather than results are not usually successful. Often front-line staff find it hard to get their ideas into practice or to make their voices heard at all.

In a 2013 survey, Community Health Innovation (CHI) found that the biggest block to innovation among healthcare professionals was managers and that finance was often not the problem at all.


Getting over the hurdles of making a change to practice and having the courage to put your head above the parapet can be hard, particularly when your idea is constantly open to criticism. Nurses need to understand the political climate and what is important to both commissioners and their organisation.

There is often a disconnect which is hard to surmount between what happens in practice and senior management.

It is not all gloom. There are ways of getting your ideas out there

First it is important to understand what the organisational drivers are and what motivates those people in senior positions.

Organisations need to remove the blocks and give staff a route for their ideas to be tested out. We also need to celebrate failure as well as success. In an era of risk assessments and fear of doing it wrong we need to make sure care is as safe as we can without stopping innovation.

The CHI programme supports healthcare staff in a variety of settings to put their ideas into practice, make a change and save money. We have years of success in doing things differently. Most importantly, we believe that front-line staff are best placed to know what is wrong and needs changing.

For more information visit healthinnovation.org.uk

About the author

Alison Richardson


Ali Richards is director of innovation at Community Health Innovation, Manchester, UK

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